A federal judge in Buffalo has dismissed an apparently novel claim that attempted to link consumption of high fructose corn syrup to a 14-year-old girl’s diabetic condition.
Western District Chief Judge William Skretny (See Profile) said in S.F. v. Archer-Daniels-Midland Company, 13-cv-634, that the plaintiff did not adequately allege that her condition was the result of high fructose corn syrup rather than one of the many other factors that can cause Type 2 diabetes.
Skretny also rejected a market share theory of liability, finding that although the state Court of Appeals had not applied the theory to a situation like this one, it would not allow the plaintiff to proceed.
The case began nearly a year ago (NYLJ, June 19, 2013) when Buffalo attorney J. Michael Hayes sought to connect the dramatic increase in Type 2 diabetes over the last 50 years with the increased use of high fructose corn syrup, a commercial sweetener and inexpensive alternative to sugar.
Skretny said the plaintiff failed to show that the syrup was any more likely to induce diabetes than simple fructose, a naturally occurring compound found in fruits such as pears and grapes. He also said the plaintiff failed to show which of several companies produced the high fructose corn syrup she blamed for her illness, and said the market share theory of liability would not apply.
Hayes said he will appeal.
The Corn Refiners Association, a trade group, contends that the plaintiff’s claims were contradicted by credible research as well as findings by the Food & Drug Administration and the American Medical Association. Kevin Hogan of Phillips Lytle in Buffalo represents Archer-Daniels-Midland, the lead defendant.